I didn't get the chance to catch it live, but the transcript of President Noynoy Aquino's 1st State of the Nation address is posted online here.
As expected, there were varied reactions. Some legislators pledged support. Some, like the militants, noted here that 'there was no mention of any concrete plans or policies to address the issue of human rights.". Forces loyal to the previous administration commented that "much of it was spent blaming the previous administration for the many problems, but...the figures that were mentioned were misleading”. They were actually preparing for a "counter-SONA" to refute Aquino.
At any rate it would be premature to judge the new administration's concrete plans on the basis of this SONA alone, and it is quite understandable that it is couched in general terms at this point. President Noynoy has been in the hot seat for only three weeks, and detailed action plans should take more time in the making. As far as the nitty-gritty is concerned, one should feel especially interested in the fiscal policy details. Aquino's SONA has hinted at a policy of "public-private partnerships" to deliver social services, which a solon found "dangerous". The president also talked about pushing a "Fiscal Responsibility Bill", which would require legislators to identify funding sources for bills. It has been noted that P104.1 billion is still needed for the many laws have already passed but whose implementation remains pending because of "lack of funds". Hmm, what's the point in expending legislative resources cranking out all those laws if there is no money to implement them.
The brief situationer is that Aquino's government has inherited a budget deficit of P325 billion for 2010, while the debt stock has already ballooned to P4.4 trillion. On this note I remember Noynoy's campaign promise not to impose new taxes while seeking to improve the delivery of social services. Already, DOH Secretary Ona has asked for an additional P9 billion to increase the reach of basic PhilHealth services for the poor. The other departments are expected to follow suit, noting urgent requirements. It is going to be a agonizing tightrope of belt-tightening, running after revenue, strictly prioritizing and controlling expenses while targeting the biggest bang in the bucket for every peso spent. Tough, very tough. It beats me why so many people are so eager to become president...
Meanwhile, congressman Lagman has re-filed the RH bill on the very, very first day of Congress. The bill seeks to appropriate gazillions of taxpayers money so that the government can buy and distribute the full range of contraceptives for free.